Wednesday, 6 May 2009

'Kingmaker' Epps Steps Down

In another signal that a general election is only just around the corner leader of the LibDem group on RBC, Cllr Gareth Epps has stepped back from this frontline role after only a year in the job.

He described it as a 'exceptional' period for his party during which the transition to NOC from a Labour-dominated council has given his team of councillors additional responsibilities.

Cllr Epps said, "When I took over as leader, we were entering an uncertain and turbulent situation in Reading, with a new chief executive, and many new councillors replacing long-standing Labour opponents."

He cited major successes in forcing an independent inquiry into school admissions, delivering on environmental crime enforcement and opposing unfair rent rises on council tenants.

Cllr Epps also played kingmaker when it came to the protracted discussions over RBC's annual budget, which eventually saw almost all LibDem amendments adopted as the deadlock between Labour and Conservative parties threatened to send council services into limbo.

LibDems are expected to announce their new group leader next week, as Cllr Epps will now concentrate on efforts to become the MP for Reading East.

Cllr Epps also advocated his commitment to the cause of local people, saying "Liberal Democrat councillors have continued to outwork and outperform [all other parties]."


Previous election results (2001), (2005) [ref]
Con: 13,943 (32.0%), 15,557 (35.4%)
Lab: 19,531 (44.8%); 15,082 (34.3%)
LibDem: 8,078 (18.5%); 10,619 (24.2%)

Reading East is the LibDems 39th highest target seat.


Update: Mick spreads malicious gossip that the LibDems won't even need to phone a friend in order to decide who replaces Cllr Epps.

Implacable Conservative rival Cllr Willis claims Cllr Epps stood down because of splits in the 8-strong LibDem group, not because we are now less than 12 months before a General Election.

Cllr Swaine shows his support for his ward colleague. Cllr Goodall says Cllr Epps remains popular and influential.

Oranjepan says:
With a strong local candidate and a track record of delivery Cllr Epps makes Reading East a serious contest - expect fireworks (of the political kind)!


  1. taint going to happen - he'll be third

  2. Who's the Labour candidate?

  3. er right Jane, given the way the Labour vote has utterly collapsed in Reading!

  4. Anybody offering odds on the result in RdgE?

  5. yes, in favour of the Tories not the LibDems

  6. Err, the Labour vote has collapsed. It has not collapsed in favour of anyone.

  7. I give you 100/1 that Rob White retains his deposit.

  8. Rob Wilson's majority will be four figures, at least 2-3,000, maybe more. Labour & Lib Dems to fight it out for second & if it's a bad night for Labour they'll come in third. Lib Dems will be second as long as things are bad for Labour and the seat will revert to a Lb/Tory marginal as Labour get closer to forming their next government, some ten years+ down the line

  9. Hi Flash,
    is that opinion based on your reading of the national picture, or on any particular local insight?

  10. I doubt any but the Tories can win Reading East. In Reading West things are more fluid, with Martin going. But the LD have lost West Berks and outside Redlands & Katesgrove have made little progress.

    Its odd that Gareth is going just before the Euroelection, you would have thought he would be busy campaigning.

  11. Hi Adrian, can you explain why the timing is odd? I always thought serious politicians spent all year campaigning.

  12. As I said, he (and all serious politicians) should be busy now with the Euros. Normally you would leave internal elections till after June 4th.

    For your information, many politicians only campaign during elections.

  13. Your knowledge is obviously greater than mine.

    As I understand it the new leader of the LibDem group will be decided at their group meeting on Monday, not through a ballot of wider membership, so it is unlikely to cause any distraction from other duties.

    I also suggest that this move was foreseen and planned for, so the councillors and ward reps who have a say in the decision will probably already have settled on their preferred candidate.

    In all likelihood the decision was made to groom one of their number for the job over the past 12 months in preparation for the eventual replacement, so I envisage a harmonious 5 minute discussion before they move on to other business.

  14. I've been watching Martin Salter for longer. And the Park Ward Cllrs, one of whom will disappear for months. Theres also the accolade data. see

    I know nothing of the LD selection process, so wont comment on that.


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